The Importance of Touch.

As a ballroom dancer, martial artist, Reiki and massage practitioner I can attest to the power and importance of touch.

Touch is crucial to our physical health.

Study after study shows how intensely necessary physical connection is to our development and well-being. As adults even minimal regular touch can have enormous impact on our quality of life by lowering blood pressure, strengthening our immune system, and improving medical recovery times.

If no intervention occurred before they turned two then the physical damages were permanent.

Touch is vital for our mental and emotional health.

Living in a world and culture which continues to favor technology and convenience above human interaction we may be growing more globally connected on intellectual levels but we are losing the basic physical contact we desperately need. The more we allow ourselves to get trapped within the purely internal world of our devices the more isolated and withdrawn we become, and our exhaustively hectic work schedules do not help. It is far too easy for even perfectly fit, able, socially engaged people to suddenly find themselves going days, weeks, months, or more without simple nurturing contact.

From increases in self-esteem to the healing and solidifying of relationships even a form of touch as structured as partner dancing can literally change people’s lives.

Touch improves our productivity.

Neither physical nor emotional health exists in a vacuum. Our ability to function, and hopefully, thrive in our daily lives is greatly affected by our degrees of health on all levels. Thus touch or the lack thereof can have a massive effect on our success and fulfilment. In 2010 Drs Keltner, Kraus, and Huang at UC Berkeley studied the games of all the NBA teams in the 2008–2009 season.

When touch is present performance and mutual appreciation increase.

Touch has countless different tones, textures, intentions, and contexts.

Touch is not a singular concept. There are as many different shades and tones of touch as there are different shades and tones of emotion, essentially infinite. Even though our social and psychological awareness has expanded and diversified over the last couple of decades our thoughts and attitudes around touch, particularly in Western cultures, hasn’t done the same. If anything our understanding of touch has narrowed, especially with regards to male touch.

Touch is a language which we seem bent on limiting to only two or three words, total.

All touch is emotional.

Both the act of touching and our perceptions of being touched are powerfully affected by our emotions. In part this is because touch is central to how we bond with one another, guided and shaped by the rituals and attitudes of our surrounding culture with regards to how those bonds are to be formed and expressed. But at a base biological level there is no physical sensation without emotional engagement.

We are creatures of emotion and as our emotions are intrinsically linked to our experiences of touch how we treat one enormously affects the other.

So what can we do to foster more touch in our lives?

With friends and family make hugging a part of greeting and parting — even just a light embrace offers all the benefits and positives of bonding touch, and opens the door for a stronger embrace should the need ever arise.

Written by

A professional dancer, choreographer, theatre creator, and featured TEDx speaker with an honours degree in psychology, two black belts, and a lap-top.

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